Following my last blog on Net bullies that demystified the concept of cyber bullying, it’s time now to throw light on the probable effects and solutions to this menace.
To recap what cyber bullying constitutes, consider the case of teen singer Rebecca Black and the spiteful comments directed against her following the release of her video on You Tube. That is a classic example of cyberbullying.
A net bully victim is at the receiving end of malicious posts, hate mails, and scary messages. The aim of the cyber bully is to defame the victim, cause psychological breakdown, and ostracize him/her socially. These effects are serious and long lasting and the victim can become a loner, go into depression, and even start contemplating suicide. Just listen to the Mother of a victim speak here.
- Being reclusive – The victim tries to avoid society, becomes a loner and always looks scared and fearful
- Guilt – The victim feels that he/she has done something to provoke the treatment meted out and so feels guilty
- Humiliation – The victim is subjected to humiliation in the virtual and even perhaps in the real world because of the public insulting
- Anger – Repeated bullying can cause anger and aggressive behaviour at home as the victim is frustrated at not knowing who the predator is
- Tension – Normal life is disrupted and the victim is under severe stress
- Depression – The victim may go into depression and suffer from nervous breakdown
So what should you do if you see some or all of these signs in your child? Naturally, the most important thing is to be a friend to the frightened/depressed child and show lots of love. Try to win the child’s confidence and learn all you can of the matter. If you guess the bully to be a schoolmate, involve the school authorities, if feasible.
Other than that,
- Teach your kids about NOT befriending or chatting with people they do NOT know in real life
- Tell them about maintaining propriety and privacy during online communications so that they do not provide fodder for further harassment
- Instruct them never to reply to bullies
- Take screenshots of pages to record the incidents of bullying
- Delete bullies from friend lists and report abuse online, or to the nearest cybercrime cell, if the bullying gets serious
- If needed, let the child stop all online activities for some time, or change id and passwords
- Never leave a bully victim alone for prolonged periods. Someone should always be around for comfort and support
There is a reason why I keep harping on the blessings of having parental control features in the PC security software. Not only can you control what sites your child access, you can also block mails from strangers and keep track of chatroom activities. This can prove invaluable in identifying if the child is being bullied on the net and, in taking necessary actions.
Stay safe online!